A – Annnd…Action!

My A to Z Challenge theme is teaching you how not to write a book, or a short story, or any piece of creative writing whatsoever. For more information, including links to previous chapters and lessons, please refer to this post. Now buckle in and proceed with…



Billionaire Highlander cowboy Hawk MacHardcastle is tired of living the jetset life of champagne, bucking broncos, kilts, fast cars, and burning bundles of cash for warmth. Desperate to find meaning in his life, he retires to his family’s isolated cabin in the wilds of New Jersey, on the shores of majestic Lake Latrine.

There, Hawk plans on self-reflection and pursuing the great love of his life—fishing. However, Hawk’s self-imposed loneliness comes to an end when he makes a most unusual companion and fishing buddy.

Dropsy Velvet was once a young woman living on the shores of Lake Latrine with her settler family. However, a curse turned her into a mermaid and now she lives, sad and alone, in the depths of the lake. She hasn’t had human contact for close to fifty years, thanks to everyone either being terrified of her or thinking they’re drunk when they see her—but Hawk may be the connection to the world she’s been craving. Charmed by her innocent face, sparkling wit, and huge bare breasts, Hawk decides to help her find a way to lift the curse, as she will lift his: the curse of ennui and affluenza. But time is running out, for something sinister wants to flush Latrine away forever.


Hawk MacHardcastle stood on the creaking wooden pier which stretched out into the toilet bowl-freshener blue waters of Lake Latrine. His biceps bulged and glistened in the golden July sun. His mane of fiery red hair flowed and rippled on the summer breeze. His burly beard bristled like a proud sea urchin. His massive hands were clenched into fists as he focused his steel-gray gaze on the creature before him.

Hovering in mid-air, having just launched itself from the depths of the lake, a hammerhead shark levitated before him. Its razor-sharp teeth gnashed in burgeoning rage as its fins flapped out a death march. The shark swished its mighty tail and beckoned Hawk to his doom. But Hawk was not doomed—for his punch was mightier than the strike of Thor’s hammer, and he smashed down the uppity shark with one blow. It fell back into the lake with a massive splash, creating a wave like a tsunami on a Japanese beach. An agonized roar followed it to its watery grave.

Hawk drew heaving breaths, his gigantic chest expanding and deflating like a well-oiled bagpipe.

“I came here to find peace,” he rumbled out, and turned his face away. A single tear rolled town his manly cheek. “But peace will never find me.”


Writers are often told to start their story with ‘action.’ This is to draw the reader in, set the tone of the story, and make someone want to read more (including whatever agent/editor you submitted it to). However, overdoing it to start things off with a kick can have the opposite effect of creating interest—making your story seem really absurd instead.

Rather than having your main character punch a levitating shark, start the story in a place where something important to your protagonist is at stake—or has just been lost. In other words, create ‘action’ that will become the reason for pushing the story forward and trying to resolve the situation your protagonist finds themselves in. Give the reader tension and conflict. This doesn’t have to be loud and boisterous, or even particularly ‘action-y,’ as long as the opening resonates emotionally. Making the reader ask “how will this get fixed?” as a hook is much better than a literal right hook.

Author: Megan Morgan

Paranormal and contemporary romance author.

90 thoughts

  1. I’ve been reading since day one (A), but here it is day seven (G), and I’m just writing to comment now.
    You are talented! You have a gift! My wife hasn’t read romance novels for years (long before I met her).
    She doesn’t blog, she doesn’t tweet — she seldom facebooks (her words); but when I started reading “The Worst Romance Novel,” she got curious.
    So, I read it to her, off my cell phone.
    “Oh, that’s bad!” She laughed. “Is there any more?”
    Pandora’s Tacklebox is now our quiet entertainment at dinner. (It may not sound like much, but it is a big compliment.).
    If you publish, please, reserve two copies, we will stop in for your book signing.
    I hope that my attempts can at least find the bar that you have set skyward.

    Sir Leprechaunrabbit 🍀🐰


    1. Oh, this made me laugh so much and also touched my heart! Thank you so much! 😀 I’m glad the two of you are enjoying it so much and getting so much entertainment out of it. I don’t have any plans to publish, but maybe I should put it in an ebook format and give it away from free? Hmmmm…

      Thank you SO much! I hope to entertain you all the way to Z!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love you haha, this is the most genious idea ever, reading all of them now!

    About starting to action, I confess it is something I enjoy but casual action, nothing crazy. //fellow challenger


  3. OMFG ! Why didnt I stumble upon your blog before !! Thank God I did today.. I mean what brilliance..just ..sheer brilliance ! I was knocked off my chair when two suspecting colleagues at work rolled their eyes at me.
    Take a bow Megan, I am a fan now. This is undoubtedly the funniest , yet profound piece of writing I have read in recent times ! Will be following you for more “Action” !!

    Would be obliged if you can pay me a visit and let me know your thoughts, would mean a lot !

    @Subhmohanty from
    And Life Unfolds…
    A to Z Challenge 2016


  4. I almost started crying from the blurb’s first sentence alone. You know the laughing-tears emoji? My face right then. Truly brilliant. Looking forward to this series of posts.


  5. You had me at the toilet bowl blue waters! 😀 Eww-factored descriptions. Lake Latrine is a hook too. How not to do things indeed! Such a fun and ingenious way to show not tell! Kudos.



  6. This is really good advice – I often find myself more drawn into a novel when it starts with something that connects me emotionally to the character(s) rather than a crazy action scene with little to no context, although your story really did make me smile 🙂


  7. Brilliant! I was totally drawn in by your enticing comment …come check out the worst romance ever written in 26 days…. it’s a train wreck but you just can’t look away!!!!

    I actually found it very engaging because of your wit! look forward to reading more. 🙂 x


  8. I think the best writers are those who can turn their writing into a bad one – that shows skill and awareness. You definitely possess those!
    I agree that action, in itself can be good or bad, it’s the stakes (+ style + character) that’ll make it worthwhile. Great post, thanks for making your point in this very entertaining way! 😉


  9. Your theme is my favorite of all the ones I’ve seen this year. I can’t wait to read each post. The “toilet bowl freshener blue waters” part about killed me. Hahahahaha! And a levitating shark. ROFL! Great job, lady.


  10. That toilet blue color of the lake will stay with me. Darn. But after reading that truly memorable snippet, I appreciated the lessons drawn and agree the first paragraphs are crucial to setting the story and drawing the reader into your world. Sometimes I think because of Amazon’s preview, those first sentences make or break. That snippet was horribly bad. The toilet bowl water. His biceps. Glistening. Aargh!


    1. I’m cracking up! I’m glad you found it hilarious (and educational). I definitely agree, the first few paragraphs of a story are what draw me in–or don’t. I’m not sure punching a shark would do that, unless of course, it was a book about how to punch sharks.

      Thanks for stopping by!


  11. J here, stopping by from the #atozchallenge – where I am part of Arlee Bird’s A to Z Ambassador Team.
    April is here and I’m excited about it. Best of luck to us both on meeting our goals of posting and hopping to other blogs.
    My blog has a giveaway. There’s a bonus a to z challenge each day to encourage people to visit more stops.

    OMG. ROFLMAO. It may be a bad way to open a novel, but it’s so bad that it went right around the bend to hilarious.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. What is disturbing is how much fiction like this is now flooding the market–over the top though it may be. I’m very much for self-publishing, but I wish people would do their homework and revising before hitting the publish button.


  12. You know? I’ve read (especially in workshops, but not only) stories where the hook was so obviously pushed, where the writer was so obviously trying very hard, that it really put me off.

    Your opening is actually quite good, compared to those openings, because at least there is a smooth flaw to it. I’ve read openings that give a punch in the first para and then just deflate, so that a read would wonder, “Mhm… so what was that all about again?”
    This kind of opening really annoy me, because I feel cheated.

    The levitating shark is just wonderful. How come nobody has ever thought of it before? 😉


    1. I cracked up at your comment telling me this was good. Thank you! I know what you mean, though. I have a hard time getting into stories where it’s obvious the beginning is just written to razzle-dazzle. I would rather find out who the characters are and what’s at stake.

      It will deflate I promise, as you’ll see tomorrow there’s absolutely no point in punching the shark other than to show how ‘manly’ he is. But isn’t that what we all dream of, a rich, handsome man who can punch sharks? 😀

      Thanks for stopping by!


  13. Oh, I like how this AtoZ is going. I have learned to read at least 50 pages before I give up on a book because it takes that long to really understand where some books are going. Action packed books don’t really get me reading unless I care about the character.


    1. I feel the same way. I don’t want non-stop action from the start, though I do want ‘something’ to be happening–and I want to get to know the characters so I can care about that something happening to them.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.